Actual vs. Constructive Knowledge
Knowledge can be a necessary element you have to establish to prove liability for someone else’s negligence. This is particularly true when dealing with a hazardous condition – to hold a property owner responsible for the hazard, you would have to show that the owner knew about the threat.
Whether you must prove some type of knowledge (constructive or actual) will depend on the circumstances of your case, and an Ohio lawyer from The Henry Law Firm is here to help.
According to the legal principle “ignorantia juris non excusat,” a person cannot use ignorance of or mistake about the law as a legal defense. In all cases, there are different ways knowledge is defined and applied. Usually, the term knowledge is broken into actual and constructive knowledge. Let’s read on to learn more.
What Is Actual Knowledge?
Actual knowledge differs from constructive knowledge in that a person ‘has to have known’ instead of ‘should have’ known about an event or condition. Actual knowledge can be proven by direct or circumstantial evidence. Some examples of actual knowledge include when:
- A property owner testifies that he was aware of a broken stair or when maintenance records show that a company was aware of a hole in its parking lot.
Evidence of a wrongdoer’s actual knowledge is the highest degree of awareness. It shows that the wrongdoer was consciously aware of a condition or event.
Additional Examples of Actual Knowledge
To consider what actual knowledge looks like in a practical situation, think about the following scenario:
- You host a party at your home and know that the space where the party is held has a rotten roof. If the roof collapses during the party and you did not warn your guests that it could collapse, you might be held liable for any injuries sustained because you were aware of the hazardous condition before the harm occurred.
What Is Constructive Knowledge?
Constructive knowledge is when a person is legally presumed to know something simply because they ‘should have’ known it. It can be defined as the knowledge a person would have learned after some reasonable level of diligence. In some instances, a court will determine that a person has constructive knowledge even though they likely lacked actual knowledge.
Essentially, constructive knowledge applies to those who suspect that certain circumstances exist, but instead of questioning these circumstances, they decide to ignore the situation and not make further inquiries deliberately. Some examples of constructive knowledge include when:
- A person has a responsibility to inspect certain premises and fails to do so – in that instance, the person may have constructive knowledge of any hazard the inspection would have revealed.
Additional Examples of Constructive Knowledge
Since constructive knowledge is a common issue submitted to a jury for decision, we thought it prudent to help you understand this concept by providing you with the following scenario:
- If there is a spill at a supermarket that employees fail to clean up in a reasonable amount of time, a court could find that the supermarket had constructive knowledge of the hazard. However, for constructive knowledge to be applied, the spill had to have been visible and left unattended for a significant amount of time.
Even though no one was aware of the spill before someone got hurt, the spill was there for a long enough time for the store to be deemed to have had constructive knowledge of the potentially dangerous situation.
Contact an Ohio Attorney to Discuss Knowledge for Your Case
Understanding the difference between actual and constructive knowledge can be challenging. If you want to understand these legal concepts, you might want to consider speaking with an Ohio lawyer. At The Henry Law Firm, we will work alongside you and explain the difference between actual and constructive knowledge. We will also help you determine which concept applies to your case. We know how important it is to seek justice and obtain compensation for the wrongs done to you, especially if you sustained injuries. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.